MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online buzz

7.06am TV NEWS: The creator of one of the hippest shows on US television, Lena Dunham, has a message for members of her 20-something generation: do not be afraid to make a splash in the still male-dominated world of show business. Click here for the full story. You go Lena!

7.04am Last week, we told you about the chance to win an overnight stay in the Tempe IKEA store. Well, three lucky people have camped out in the furniture wonderland (I mean, megastore!) and they were woken with an orchestra, puppies & breakfast in bed. Nice!

7.02am STRANGE BUT (POSSIBLY!) TRUE: South Korea may be doomed. A recent study, conducted by the National Assembly Research Service in Seoul, predicts that the country will reach zero inhabitants by 2750.

7am LOCAL NEWS: A group of male University of Wollongong academics have needed a little polish to highlight a big issue.

*Health reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the full story here.

6.59am This cat has EYEBROWS! I repeat, this cat has EYEBROWS! Enjoy.

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just joining us. We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 15 & some scattered showers. All sweet on the roads & rail.

6.56am The team at Diggies Cafe in Wollongong took this great snap of the sun rising on the first day of spring yesterday. And wasn't it a glorious day!? Too bad it couldn't stick around!

6.54am NATIONAL: The prospect of Australian participation in a war against Islamic State fighters in Iraq is edging closer with both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten in lockstep yesterday branding the militants respectively "a death cult" and "an enemy of humanity".

6.52am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Miley Cyrus just can't seem to keep her clothes on. She's stripped down (again!) for a spread in V Magazine. Oh Miley.

6.50am Congrats to all who entered the Merc's calendar competition - we had over 800 entries. Here's a full list of the winners (and their pics!). The calendar will be available for sale later this month.

6.46am What's On In Wollongong is giving away tickets for the Queen tribute show, due to hit the WEC on September 11. Click below for details.

6.45am Need a bit on inspiration in the kitchen this week? Tired of boring ol' steak & veg? Check out this weekly meal planner for a bit of dinner revamp.

6.43am Don't forget this Sunday, September 7, is Father's Day.

6.42am WORLD NEWS: A man armed with a knife killed three children and injured five others in a primary school in China yesterday, the first day of a new school term after the summer holiday, state media reported.

6.40am Having a rough Tuesday morning? Watch this piglet scampering through the grass & you day will INSTANTLY improve. I promise!

6.38am SPORT: Aussie tennis star Casey Dellacqua was beaten 7-5 6-2 by Italian 11th seed Flavia Pennetta last night in the US Open. Damn!

6.36am CELEB NEWS: US comedienne Joan Rivers is reportedly being taken out of her medically induced coma, but there is still some concern as to what state the 81-year-old will be in when she wakes up today.

6.34am LOCAL NEWS: A serial thief has been jailed for stealing 16 pairs of underwear and taking part in a bag snatching.

*Reporter Bree Fuller has the full story here.

6.32am NATIONAL: A royal commission report into the former Rudd government's $2.8 billion home insulation program found a "litany of failures arising from a dysfunctional culture in the former administration", PM Tony Abbott has said. 

6.30am This dog meme is a winner - even dogs can be hoarders. A warning to pet owners: don't move your couches!

6.29am LOCAL SPORT: Helensburgh captain Steve McCallum admits he was struck by a painful sense of deja vu when a Nathan Fien field goal sunk the Tigers in the major semi-final two weeks ago.

6.28am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A couple in the US has had a Mexican-themed Star Trek wedding. I kid you not. Think tacos & Trekkies. Weird.

6.26am CELEB NEWS: If you missed it yesterday, the internet went crazy after nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence (no! Not J-Law!) and other celebs were released. To avoid your own nude photo hack, here's some handy tips on phone privacy.

6.24am These pictures are just too funny. Check out these animal reaction photos - I sense a series of hilarious memes coming on...

6.22am Have you been snapped out & about in the Illawarra? Check out our gallery of social pics - you never know who you might spot!

6.20am NSW: The matriarch of a family from which six children were removed amid allegations of neglect, child abuse and incest has been accused of "masterminding" a plot last year to snatch two of her children back from foster care. Get the full story here.

6.18am Did you get to Lady Gaga's Sydney shows last week? Looks like it was typical Gaga - crazy!

6.17am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong Greens councillor Jill Merrin has criticised new rules allowing landowners to clear vegetation near their home, saying she wants the laws suspended until full scientific reviews of their effects take place.

*Reporters Kate McIlwain & Shannon Tonkin have the full story here.

6.15am The cast of Roo Theatre's production of Annie was announced yesterday - congrats! The show opens later this year. Click below for the list.

6.14am MUSIC NEWS: Bruce Springsteen is set to release a children's book. His first book, Outlaw Pete, is due out on November 4. Why? Because he's Bruce Springsteen and he can.

6.12am WORLD NEWS: Ukraine's military said yesterday it had pulled its forces back from defending a vital airport in the east against Russian tanks, as President Petro Poroshenko accused Moscow of "direct and open aggression".

6.10am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Beyonce & Jay Z have responded to rumours they're splitting up by engaging in some serious PDA. They embraced & slow danced at the Made in America festival in LA overnight.

6.09am NATIONAL: The Reserve Bank is tipped to keep interest rates on hold, when it meets this afternoon. Rates would remain at 2.5 per cent.

6.08am Looking for something to do tonight? RAD bar in Wollongong is offering Simpsons trivia. That's right, trivia exclusively about The Simpsons. It kicks off at 7pm.

6.06am And in national news, via the Sydney Morning Herald:

*Key documents relating to the lucrative casino licence awarded to billionaire James Packer at Barangaroo have been stamped secret by the NSW gambling regulator, which argues their commercial sensitivity trumps the public's right to know.

*Aggressive behaviour has increased outside Sydney bars but the number of alcohol-related injuries at St Vincent's has declined since the city's 1.30am lockout was introduced, according to submissions made to a parliamentary inquiry.

*Above-average temperatures and rain deficits mean Australia's main population centres can expect a more active bushfire season this summer than usual.

6.04am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The woman who helped select Sydney's controversial "cloud arch" and milk crate sculptures will soon make her mark in Wollongong's Crown St Mall.

*Some Illawarra school canteens are ignoring health guidelines and offering students soft drinks, ice blocks and cakes among their menu options.

*Fewer than one in five children at risk of harm in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven are being visited or assessed by a community services caseworker.

*The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking the owner of a Shellharbour hair salon to court over alleged non-payment of staff.

6.02am Let's kick things off with the latest weather & traffic, shall we?

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with a top of just 15 degrees (Nooo - goodbye taste of spring). Expect a few scattered showers.

TRAFFIC All looks good on our roads & for the drive to Sydney.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am Good morning Illawarra & happy Tuesday! Thanks to Glen Humphries for holding down the fort for me yesterday while my fiancee had surgery. But I'm back! Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, this morning for all the latest news etc.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop